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VMware CEO credits Edward Snowden with transforming enterprise cloud attitudes

VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger spoke out at the VMworld Europe conference about how the "professional era" of cloud has been shaped by Edward Snowden's NSA revelations

The Edward Snowden revelations have been instrumental in hastening the maturation of the cloud computing market, as enterprises move beyond experimenting with off-premise technologies.

That’s the view of VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger, who talked at length during the second day keynote of the VMworld user conference in Barcelona about the evolution in how enterprises are treating cloud, as CIOs and IT managers become more accustomed to using it.

The “professional era of cloud” is now fast-approaching, he continued, as enterprises start to look beyond simply needing to link up their existing datacentres to the public cloud, and supporting applications and workloads that can be quickly and easily deployed in both environments.

“In this experimental phase of cloud, we might have had growth and new applications, and speed, but we’re weak on governance and line of business capacity,” said Gelsinger.

“How do we connect up to our systems of record and these new systems of engagement that are being built, and move to the professional era of the cloud, where we’re able to get the efficiency and the governance, as well as the growth and the speed?”

A factor that has been instrumental in shaping how the enterprise goes about addressing these challenges has been the Edward Snowden National Security Agency (NSA) surveillance revelations, according to Gelsinger, as they’ve made organisations more mindful of where they choose to store their cloud data.

“Love him or hate him, he changed the face of IT on a global basis. The 2013 disclosure by Snowden is the most significant change in the technology landscape this decade,” he said.

“When I’m in Germany, France, China, everybody is very clear that they are not going to have a single cloud environment. They’re demanding locally grown and governed environments.

“It’s not going to be one private cloud, because they need to be domiciled in many locations. Similarly for the infrastructure-as-a-service, platform-as-a-service and software-as-a-service providers. Everyone is going to be demanding governance and local management, and provisioning of data,” he added.

This model of IT consumption is what VMware has termed the “unified hybrid cloud”, Gelsinger continued, where enterprises will have the freedom to move applications and workloads across the world, into different cloud environments, some of which might be operated by its competitors.

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VMware: Open to all

The speed with which these migrations occur will need to be fast, as enterprises move more of their production workloads off-premise, he said, which will require clouds built using common management, networking and security frameworks.

In line with this, the company has been making a concerted effort in recent years to become more open, so its technologies play nicer with its competitors’ products, Gelsinger said.

To emphasise this point, the company showcased a series of product demos during the keynote that showed the ease with which users will be able to securely manage virtual machines using VMware’s NSX technology in the Amazon Web Services cloud.

It also treated attendees to a preview of its Project A2 initiative, which combines VMware’s mobile device management tool Airwatch and its App Volumes technology to make it easier for admins to manage user devices from Microsoft, Apple, Android and others.

In the wake of the news about Dell buying VMware’s parent company EMC, a lot of the talk at this year’s VMworld has centred on how open the virtualisation giant is to partnering with other tech vendors to help accelerate enterprise adoption of cloud.

In reference to this, Sanjay Poonan, general manager of user computing at VMWare, said the firm will – even under Dell’s ownership – continue to do this.

“This is an important ecosystem in which VMware stands independent,” he said, during his time on stage during the keynote. “We expect [through the] Dell and EMC partnership, for our Dell partnership to get stronger, but we will continue to work with HP, in the way we align with HP services.”

Read more on Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS)